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Twentieth, Lake shop ‘Ricki Lake’ 2.0

Syndie strip talker clears top 50 markets, 93% of country

For Ricki Lake, everything old is new again. The talk show veteran’s new syndie strip, “The Ricki Lake Show,” is being shopped by Twentieth Television at NATPE, and Lake said Tuesday that she’s hoping the show will be able harness the same appeal of the late “Oprah Winfrey Show,” though she stopped short of saying she expects Oprah’s level of success.

“I’m hoping we’ll have half the success of my old show,” Lake said. Station buyers, at least, have faith that she’ll deliver: As of Tuesday, the yakker was cleared in 93% of the country and all of the country’s top 50 markets.

Lake credits much of that success to Twentieth’s push to get her on “Dancing With the Stars,” a move Lake said she wasn’t keen on at first. “It worked beautifully,” she said.

Lake said she’s hoping the new show will have the tone of “The old Oprah — pre-billionaire status, pre-school in Africa.” It’s the talk maven’s positive vibe she wants to emulate: good advice and access to experts, rather than chair-tossing. “No screaming matches,” she told Variety. “No DNA tests.”

It’s a relief, she said, to feel like more of an equal partner with Twentieth than she was with Columbia TriStar TV. “The first time around, I was cast into the show. They picked me out of a hundred girls,” she recalled. “And now we’ve chosen each other.”

As more than one person has pointed out, it’s not just Oprah’s departure that has created opportunities in the daytime schedule. Regis Philbin has left “Live!” and the soaps are going off the air one by one. “This is what I’m good at,” said Lake. “We did the pilot in July and I thought, ‘Oh, God, am I going to remember how to do this?’ and it was like I’d never left.”

“If I have any gift,” she said, “it’s not doing the foxtrot or the Viennese waltz. I have so much more life experience now than I did the first time around.”

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